Life Along the Western Seine River: BK

As I walk southwest along Avenue de New York in Paris, I hear cars buzzing to my right and the hum of the Bateau-Mouche to my left. Extravagant houses, some with black fences topped with gold tips, populate the streets beside me. Large intricately crafted doors with circular tops protect the luxurious residences inside. Each building is ornately decorated with elaborate carvings and pillars. Beautiful Parisian balconies protrude along the long wide windows, providing the inhabitants with a quaint perch and an impeccable view of La Seine River and La Tour Eiffel. Every few blocks an authentic French café or mellow, but chic, restaurant appears. Organized seating is offered outside, while the menus are sophisticated and contain relatively high priced food and drink options. Leafy trees with hues of apricot orange and dandelion yellow line the sidewalk on both sides of the avenue, sheltering me from the bustle of city life. Lampposts frequently placed along the streets arch over the sidewalk. I am immediately reminded of Jane Jacobs, who claims that “good lighting is important” because it helps create a safe urban environment by allowing people to see at a greater range (Jacobs, 41). Additionally, the immaculate sidewalks are wide and provide benches, which pedestrians sit on as they rest and enjoy the view.

Within this secluded bubble of wealth is the heart of Paris, La Tour Eiffel, that attracts people from all walks of life. I pass through a break in the trees and emerge onto a bright open street, Place de Varsovie, with bustling commercial and tourist activity. To my right is the Jardin du Trocadéro, a large fountain encompassed by a small park. Children run along the side of the fountain careful not to fall into the cold water, while couples hold hands as they express their affection in the city of love. I approach the crossing of Pont d’Iéna and Place de Varsovie and am surrounded by swarming tourists eager to get their perfect selfie with La Tour Eiffel. To my left and right, propped on top of square columns, two massive marble statues of chiseled charioteers with their great steeds look down on each passersby entering or exiting the realm of the Tower. The brisk winter breeze brushes across my cheeks as I walk southeast on Pont d’Iéna towards the looming triangular tower. I pass street vendors, whose persistent hawking of their trinkets and cheap souvenirs occasionally lure people in, and pickpockets, whose sly attempts to slip a valuable out of a handbag or backpack are occasionally successful. Pont d’Iéna bridges over La Seine river and connects the 16th District to the 7th District. Paris is divided into twenty arrondissements—districts—that separate the intercommunal administrative divisions of the city. Southeast of La Tour Eiffel is the 7th Arrondissement and northwest is the 16th Arrondissement, both upscale and desirable residential areas that contain many political and cultural institutions, opulent hotels, and similar landscape characteristics. These two areas have the highest household incomes and the broad tree-lined streets affirm the wealth and stature of these neighborhoods. Despite the upper-class area it is surrounded by, La Tour Eiffel is a tourist attraction with many commercial shops. The site of La Tour Eiffel marks a break between the tree-lined streets and lavish shops of the surrounding two districts, reflecting the city’s desire to cater to tourists and symbolizing democratic access. Ironically, this node of tourism and pickpocket economy falls within such an elegant area.

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